So, are you thinking about coming to China to teach, work, or just travel for a bit? Sounds good to me. It’s a great place to work, visit, or even live for a while. However, there are somethings that must be noted in terms of what life might be like for you as a foreigner in China. Somethings in China make life much easier than things in the west, and while there are many advantages of being here, there are also many challenges and things about China that will make you annoyed. Somethings you may flat out not like at all, but that’s all in the experience of China.
When you teach in China, you WILL make a good amount of money. For those who are graduating from college without a teaching degree, expect to be placed in a 2nd or 3rd tier city. The big cities are for those with experience and with the competition, a newbie is not wanted there, but after a year or two, getting in a 1st tier city is much easier. You can live very easily on your salary and possibly save 50% or more of your salary each month easily. This means money to travel, eat good food, and see new things. I have a whole blog on the differences between public and private schools in China. Check it out.
So, what are some of the other good things when it comes to being in China? You have the fact that overall, life is truly much easier than in the west. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s look at living costs. Now, because you are a teacher, there’s a good chance your apartment will be paid for by your school. When I say apartment, I mean rent. Some schools do pay all or at least some utilities, but that’s not very often. Even if the school doesn’t pay for your rent, most schools will give you a housing allowance and help you find a good place of your liking, which is usually not too far from the school itself. Housing in a 3rd tier city (rural area) can go from about 1500-2200RMB (~250-350USD) for a decent place per month. The better the apartment, the more expensive it is, obviously. 2nd tier cities are about 2000-3500RMB (~320-560USD) per month. 1st tier, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, you can expect to pay about 3000-5000+RMB (~450-800+USD) per month. Now these are only estimates. Most foreigners I would say live in 2nd and 3rd tier because of the cleaner air and nicer people, but some go into the bigger cities if they plan to be here long term due to the modernity and resources there.
Next, It’s easy to travel around China, and I mean very easy. There are so many beautiful and cool sights to see here. The cheapest way to travel is the fast train which has routes all across China, and about a 3 hour ride is roughly 150-200RMB (~25-35USD) and it’s very comfortable and smooth. Next we have flying around China, which is very convenient, but can be expensive depending on when you buy tickets and how soon you are leaving.
The food in China is very diverse, delicious and sometimes entertaining. I live in Taiyuan city, up in Shanxi province, and they are famous for noodles. Not just the taste, but the performance on how they make the noodles. You have people riding on unicycles, flicking off noodles from big pieces of dough, and so many other cool ways to make noodles. Sichuan (Chongqing/Chengdu) are known for spicy hotpot, 东北Dongbei (northeast China) is known for potatoes, and meat, East coast is all about seafood, and there are so many other kinds of food choices around China.
Public transportation (PT) is very convenient and easy to manage in China. The best PT is in the 1st tier cities, but 2nd tiers are up there too. With subways, local trains, buses, and taxis, they are all cheap and make life a lot easier when it comes to getting around the city.
The last thing I have to mention is just that China is super safe, the people are so kind and nice, and they are willing to help you when you need it. Many people can spot out a 1st time foreigner based on our look of confusion when we do certain things. So they will come up to you and try their best to help you out.
There’s a lot more that’s good about China, but it’s best if you come here and see it yourself. Hope this helped and I hope you can see China one day too.
Tags:General Teaching & Learning Business & Jobs Travel Food Language & Culture Lifestyle
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Living in China is easy ... as long as you are single, in good health and without kids. If you need to go to an hospital (say, your wife's back hurt, she got some woman problem, etc), find a school for the kids, caring for the parents (old people with failing health, 2000RMB/months as pension...), and all those "boring adult's responsibilities" bits, things get seriously tough. Also, this post completely by-pass the problem of pollution (can't run outside, lungs hurt too much after 2 years) and food security.
Jan 04, 2015 10:04 Report Abuse
It's true that you are able to live reasonably comfortably and save a decent percentage of your salary as a basic ESL teacher BUT you have to give up a lot of life conveniences that are taken for granted back home to do so. And any travelling will quickly eat up those savings so what you have left will be nothing back home. Also, most teachers have little or no health insurance or pension plans so there is no safety net at all. The lifestyle you describe is fine for someone who is single, has no ambition, can put up with unsafe food and poorly constructed housing, doesn't mind being cat called and harassed by uncivilized morons on a regular basis, doesn't mind breathing filthy air and doesn't mind being financially insecure due to the lack of job stability and benefits. Look, there are nice things about China. It's nice to get a bowl of tasty noodles for 6 rmb but where did the oil it's soaked in come from? It's nice to take the bus for 1 rmb but it's annoying to have a bunch of peasants staring at your shoes and making comments about you. It's nice to pay 1500 rmb for a decent apartment. But it sucks when the water keeps getting shut off and you have assholes dumping their trash in the elevator and smoking in the elevator. Being an ESL teacher can be cool. You have lots of free time and many people like the job. I started as a basic ESL teacher and did save half of my income every month but that savings was gone after a little travelling. I now make 3-4 times what I did when I started and save most of it but it's still really not much. I saved over 100,000 rmb last year (more than most ESL teachers make in a year) and that won't even pay for half of the master's degree program I want to take back in the states. So why not stay in China forever you may ask? Because I don't want to be trapped in a shitty place with shitty education, shitty healthcare, and loads of pollution even if I can buy a house here and eat BBQ and hot pot whenever I feel like it. It's not all roses Hadley. I'm waiting to hear about the "challenges that will make you annoyed" that you mentioned in the introduction but failed to elaborate on.
Jan 02, 2015 10:34 Report Abuse